This Is How Aural Swabbing Can Benefit Your Audiology Practice

Performing an aural swab on individuals suffering from ear infections can be invaluable in the process of identifying the most appropriate treatment. Unfortunately, this procedure is not usually completed by General Practitioners until the infection becomes ongoing or re-occurring.

What Is an Aural Swab?

Aural swabbing is a process during which a healthcare practitioner inserts a fine sterile cotton bud probe into the outer ear canal of a patient suffering from an ear infection in order to collect a sample of ear drainage. An ear drainage culture test is then performed: the sample is put on a special dish called culture media and the dish is checked on a daily basis to identify any bacteria, fungi, or viruses that might have grown. This helps identify the specific cause for the infection and the most appropriate treatment.

Who Can Benefit From Aural Swabbing?

This procedure is most beneficial to individuals suffering from an ear infection of the outer ear (otitis externa), or one which involves a ruptured eardrum and fluid draining from the ear canal.

Symptoms that might indicate an ear infection include:

  • pain inside the ear
  • a high temperature
  • being sick
  • hearing impairment
  • itching and irritation in/around the ear
  • a lack of energy
  • discharge draining from the ear canal

Aural swabbing can also be performed as a routine part of myringotomy, which is a surgical procedure of the eardrum, performed by making a small incision through the layers of the tympanic membrane in order to release middle-ear fluid.  

Dangers of Postponing an Aural Swab

As mentioned above, aural swabs are not usually recommended by GPs in the first episode of an ear infection. Instead, a general antibiotic is usually prescribed in the hopes that it will cure the infection.

However, this does not always happen, and the infection often becomes ongoing, leading to multiple visits to the GP until an aural swab is finally taken or the patient is referred to an ENT specialist. Not only does this waste both the patient and their GP’s time, but it also puts the impacted individual under severe stress, both due to the psychological pressure of experiencing an ongoing infection and the physical discomfort that this involves.

In some cases, the infection can repeat for years if the appropriate treatment is not identified. Persistent medical conditions can have a significant negative impact on the affected individuals’ mental wellbeing, leading to a higher risk of depression. Some of the effects that chronic/recurring conditions can have on patients’ mental health include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleeping issues
  • Loss of interest in hobbies/activities

Aural Swabbing as a Skill: Benefits for Hearing Care Professionals

Becoming certified to perform aural swabbing can be incredibly beneficial for every hearing care provider and their audiology-based business.

As a hearing care professional, acquiring this skill will enable you to perform a procedure that is not only time-saving, but also invaluable for the general wellbeing of your patients suffering from ear infections. It can potentially save them from months, even years of recurring infections, providing instant clarity as to what the most appropriate treatment is.

The ability to perform such a service will undoubtedly be deeply appreciated by these patients, many of whom might have been repeatedly given the wrong treatment for their condition, either by the NHS or by other medical practices.

Our Position as a Business

Meduc8ion are currently one of the few private clinics that offer aural swabbing. We believe that this procedure is essential in ensuring that the correct treatment is administered the first time an infection occurs, and we would like to see it become a more widespread skill when it comes to hearing care.

Are you looking to add aural swabbing to your skillset as a health practitioner? If the answer is yes, then wait no longer: click here to register your interest for our Aural Swabbing Course now!

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